I asked and you answered. After polling several students at my school (Boston University), as well as asking around the Spoon network of members, a list of America’s best regional food chains has been compiled. Take a peek and see if your hometown favorite made the list.
*Not in any particular order.
Located primarily in the southern half of the United States, Whataburger is a chain that started in the 1950’s that serves burgers, fries, shakes and the like.
In-N-Out’s spot on this list was sure to be expected. This west coast favorite serves burgers and fries that natives rave about (and that east coasters are definitely anxious to try).
Although Wawa isn’t exactly a restaurant, its name was submitted to my poll tons of times, and as a South Jersey native, I totally understand why. Located primarily in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Wawa serves hoagies (or what some of you weirdos might call ‘subs’), all kinds of snacks and candy, coffee and so much more.
Scattered around the Midwest, Culver’s is a fast-casual spot that serves burgers, chicken, fries, soups AND super yummy custard. Custard flavors change daily and you can order yours in the form of a concrete (which is basically like a super thick milkshake mixed with the topping of your choice) or a sundae.
J.P. Licks is a popular Boston-area chain that serves homemade ice cream and yogurt, and (bonus!) also serves coffee. They have twelve locations in and around Boston and change their flavors monthly. They always have the basics, but also serve unique flavors like Mint Irish Lace and Jameson’s Irish Coffee for the month of March.
Portillo’s is a Chicago-style favorite that serves burgers, fries, shakes, beef sandwiches and Chicago-style hot dogs. Although primarily located in Illinois, there are a couple scattered locations in Arizona, California and Indiana.
Rocco’s Tacos is a fun Mexican-style chain restaurant with locations scattered around Florida. They serve awesome tacos, burritos, and a wide variety of fun drinks (including great margaritas), and is the perfect spot for Taco Tuesday.
Cava Grill is a Mediterranean-style chain located in the D.C., Maryland, Virginia, LA area, and are expanding soon to NYC. They serve build-able bowls and pitas, with a variety of fillings in the categories of dips and spreads, proteins, fresh veggies and dressings.
Swenson’s Drive-In is a fast food joint that was first founded in Akron, Ohio in 1934. Now, several locations are scattered around Ohio, offering burgers, fries and tons of different flavored milkshakes.
Jack’s Urban Eats is a hip “urban cafeteria” style restaurant with locations spread around California, particularly in the Sacramento area. They incorporate seasonal fruits and veggies and a California feel into all of their sandwiches, salads, and other entrees.
The first Giordano’s was opened in Chicago’s south side in 1974, serving Mama Giordano’s beloved double-crusted, cheese stuffed pizza (aka deep dish). The famous chain also serves regular thin crust pizza, salads and other Italian entrees. Giordano’s currently has locations all over Illinois, and even a few in Florida, Indiana and Minnesota.
Zippy’s calls itself a “neighborhood restaurant” in Hawaii, where people can enjoy local foods and spend time with friends and family. Their menu is extremely varied, and there are always daily specials. Some of their most well-known and loved dishes include the original recipe chili, golden fried chicken, and oxtail soup.
Rita’s is seasonal chain with locations scattered around the northeast. They serve Italian ice (or water ice), custard, gelatis (water ice layered with custards, sundaes and more. As a plus, most Rita’s locations typically open up for the season on the first day of spring and give out free water ice, reminding us all that warm weather isn’t to far away.
Bojangles’ is a chain that originated in North Carolina that specializes in Cajun fried chicken and fresh, buttermilk biscuits. Now they have locations spread out throughout the south and into the north as far as Pennsylvania, so you’re never too far from some yummy fried chicken.
Pollo Tropical is a fast growing Florida-based chain that specializes in Caribbean style food. They offer platters, sandwiches and wraps, salads and more that boast chicken free of hormones and trans-fats. Pollo Tropical has spread quickly throughout Florida, Texas, Georgia and Tennessee, with intentions of opening twenty more locations throughout the area by the end of the year.